Paul H. Johnson, Staff Writer
March 21, 2001, Wednesday Copyright 2001 North Jersey Media Group Inc.
The Record (Bergen County, NJ)
March 21, 2001, Wednesday; All Editions
(TRENTON, N.J.) -- As a state Senate committee heard heated testimony in Trenton over allegations of racial profiling, New Jersey State Police Superintendent Carson J. Dunbar Jr. announced an expansion of the department's attempt to recruit more minorities.
At the Irvington church of Rev. William Rutherford, chairman of the New Jersey NAACP, Dunbar announced plans to extend the current recruitment period to May 1 and spend an additional $334,000 in advertising to persuade more minorities and women to apply to become troopers.
"Today's climate is a difficult climate for the New Jersey State Police to recruit," Dunbar said at a news conference Tuesday morning.
"Diversity is the key to the state police's future."
Recruiting for next year's state police class was supposed to end this month, but Dunbar extended the deadline to find more minority applicants.
The money will buy advertising in minority-owned media as well as other newspapers, television stations, and radio stations statewide.
Dunbar admitted that he has had particular difficulty finding African Americans willing to become state troopers.
"Attached to the New Jersey State Police is the stigma of racism," Rutherford said. "We want that to be corrected. We will vigorously work to enhance and encourage the recruiting process. "The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the state police entered into a consent decree in December 1999requiring the force to take steps to combat racial profiling and increase the diversity of the state police force.
1 Currently, 43 of 163 members in police academy classes are minorities or women. Dunbar said he is focusing, too, on attracting more women to the force because they make up only about 3 percent of troopers.
"Most people have come to recognize the importance of women in law enforcement," said Lt. Wendy Galloway, head of the state police recruiting bureau.
She said that while negative publicity has affected efforts to attract minorities, young people still see value in a career in law enforcement.
"As different diverse communities see troopers like them, then they say I can do it also,"Galloway said.
The recruitment drive features new posters highlighting minority members and women, and commercials in Spanish and English in the New Jersey, New York City, and Philadelphia markets. Recruiters came to Passaic County last Wednesday and will be in Bergen County April 3, on Fairleigh Dickinson University campus.
The push for diversity comes amid hearings in Trenton over whether state police leaders and the Attorney General's Office knew of racial profiling prior to the April 1998 incident in which two troopers, during a traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike, fired gunshots into a van carrying four young minority men.
"Mama said there'd be days like this," Dunbar said.
'I've known since we took this job we needed to air whatever information is out there. My hope is that this doesn't become an issue between Republicans and Democrats," he said, adding that "my sincere hope is that we as a state can move forward."